This season is presenting some heavy challenges for the Sox. Pretty soon we'll know what kind of manager Ozzie Guillen really is.
SSS bloggers have correctly identified the biggest nuisances in the Sox' organization this year: the bullpen, CF, and the newly fickle state of the starting rotation (issues with Vasquez, Garland, and Garcia).
KW has provided Ozzie with a dizzying array of characters to staff the pen in '06 (setting the great, giddy Charlie Haeger experiment aside until section 3.)
Ozzie is known to have a predilection for working the L-R match-ups hard. Hence he must have LOOGYs. Must have Logan. Must have Thornton. And according to recent quotes cited by the wimperoo he must have another pitcher. Maybe this time he must have Javier Lopez.
Given what he's had to work with, do you like how Ozzie has managed the pen so far?
Do you like how often he changes pitchers (up to four in an inning)?
Do you like how he uses McCarthy (whose apparent need for long warm-up time seems more and more to render him ill-suited to the pullpen)?
Do you like the long save or should Ozzie stick to the traditional 3-outs in the 9th formula?
Given that June is going to be a tough month (Cleveland, Detroit, Texas, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Houston are on the schedule), we'll see how well Ozzie can do with what will continue to be a patchwork crew in the late innings.
Is Anderson's coffee-cup empty? Should it be? Is the loathsome state of the bullpen dire enough for Ozzie to demand that Kenny send Anderson down in return for an arm? Shouldn't Ozzie continue to start Anderson only-- and ONLY-- because he can catch the ball in CF? Ozzie says he wants production. Now this is interesting, because I have a feeling that Ozzie is trying one last time to light a fire under Brian N., telling him on the one hand that he only wants "good at-bats," while on the other he threatens demotion...Ozzie has involved the press before to work issues on the team (remember Marte?)... is this ever effective?
On May 10,2006, the White Sox started a 22-yr old pitcher named Charlie Haeger, who had been out of baseball before discovering the knuckleball relatively late in life, in place of an injured Jose Contreras. 6BB, 5ER, and 113 pitches later, Haeger departed, never to return. Aside from the cold reminder of the fragility of a top-notch rotation, was it really worth it not to have McCarthy start that game? Is that not why he is here, our ace-in-the-hole 6th starter?
Now that the Count is back, the equation is again simplified. Ozzie, like any other sentient being, will trot his 5 guys out there and hope for the best. Unless someone completely blows up or is lost to injury, this will not change. Is there anything Ozzie can do as a manager to get Garland, Garcia, and Vasquez to lift their games?
I think hiring Ozzie Guillen was one of KW's best moves. Say what you want about him, but he is a presence in the dugout, a presence in the game of baseball. Would anyone ever want to return to Terry Bevington?
Last year, the season got pretty hairy with Indians bearing down so hard, and Ozzie definitely had his moments of despair. "If we win the world series, I will retire...") He never hid anything. With the Tigers streaking and confident, the pressure is mounting again. This next month will tell us a lot. Will Ozzie crack?